We’ve been hearing about synthetic gasoline and e-fuels for a while now. Porsche even has a synthetic fuel manufacturing facility in South America, which turns out fuel capable of powering cars without modifying the drivetrain. Toyota is now getting into “clean” fuels with Exxon, Automotive News reports, and said its work could eventually cut as much as 75 percent of the greenhouse gases produced by internal combustion engines.
The pair said their fuel starts with cleaner feedstock, the raw material used to refine gasoline. The feedstock is combined with ethanol and renewable biomass using a more sustainable process than conventional gasoline production. Exxon’s VP of strategy and planning, Andrew Madden, said that the fuels have shown promise in early trials but are “very much at the test phase.” Any alternative fuel would need regulatory and legal approval before it could be sold commercially, which could push any potential debut by years.
Toyota has long advocated a multi-pronged approach to zero-emissions vehicles, and has just theorized a vastly expanded electric range for PHEVs, so this is not surprising. However, neither company has a great track record when it comes to translating innovation and ideas into commercial success with these things.
As Automotive News pointed out, Toyota invested heavily in hydrogen fuel cell development but hasn’t gotten traction with the cars. The Mirai is only sold in California at the moment, and even there, hydrogen fueling stations are rare. Exxon announced that algae would be the next big thing to replace diesel, only to give up on the idea a few years after the hype died down.
It will be interesting to see how the mix between EVs, “clean fuels,” and other alternative fuels plays out over the next few years. Several automakers are all-in on EVs, and some have expressed frustration that Toyota has dug in its heels on other fuel sources, but it will likely take a varied approach to lower emissions enough to matter.